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The Muse's News
The Muse's News
The Muse's News
An E-zine For And About Songwriters.
Issue 17.0
March 2014

In This Issue:
* Editor's Musings
* Music Reviews - Cyrus Rhodes
* New Artist Spotlight Additions
* Songwriting Book Review - by Tim Zbikowski
* Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
* Muse's Clues - Songwriting Web sites that inspire - Looking for a new Muse's Clues writer!  Could it be you?
* Featured Article: Quick Tip: WARNING! Content May Be Powerful To Your Song by Brad Dunse
* On Site Featured Article - An article (or articles) already online for your viewing pleasure.
* Classifieds & Useful Services
* Contact information
ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998-2014 - Jodi Krangle.
For more contact information, see end of issue.


All sorts of products and services especially for songwriters, negotiated so that you get the best price possible. You'll find means of promotion and distribution, songwriting aids, educational products, musical instruments and their accessories, and lots more. Any of these items would make a fantastic present for a songwriter in your life (even if it's you! :-) ) Have a Look!


I personally use HostDime - and LOVE them. Really. Their service is superb and prompt, they really know what they're doing, you can chat with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and their pricing (The Muse's Muse uses a dedicated server) is very reasonable. Check them out!

Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)

Write Better Songs with MasterWriter 2.0 - at a New Price!WRITE BETTER SONGS WITH MASTERWRITER 2.0 - NEW PRICE!
(And Muse's News readers *still* get a special discount!)

Looking for something really special for that songwriter in your life? (Maybe it's you!) MasterWriter 2.0 is the most powerful suite of songwriting tools ever assembled in one program. MasterWriter is endorsed by ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, NSAI and is used by some of the world's leading songwriters including Gwen Stefani, Rob Thomas, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Jimmy Webb, Kenny Loggins, Trent Reznor, Clint Black, and many more.

In addition to giving you Rhymes, Close Rhymes, Phrases, Pop-Culture, Synonyms, and the Definition, new features include Word Families and Parts Of Speech, two unique and revolutionary reference dictionaries that will open up a new world of possibilities for descriptive words and ideas. There have been updates and improvements to the existing features, including greatly expanded Sound-Alikes (close rhymes), and a completely redesigned Interface. These are serious tools for the serious songwriter.

MasterWriter's NEW price is now only $199 - but you'll still get a *$20* discount (your price is just $179!) by ordering through The Muse's Muse! Take the Tour, Download a Free Trial, and get a $20 discount! Note that the auto-inserted discount number 3004 will apply the $20 discount when ordering online. Windows and Mac compatible.

Editor's Musings:

Hi guys. I just have one thing to say about the weather here. Winter sucks.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, on to the good stuff. ;)

I'm still hoping to find someone to take over the Muse's Clues. This would involve a new article once a month, having to do with some resource online or even an app for the phone or tablet, that will help songwriters and musicians in pursuing their craft. If you're interested, I'd love to hear from you.

I'd also like to draw your attention to some free content, offered up by Ben Sword of Music Marketing Classroom (Thanks, Ben!). You can download his free PDF by clicking here. It's pretty cool stuff, so I recommend it if you're looking for new and interesting ways to get you and your music out there.

There's a bunch of new and helpful information for you in this newsletter, so let's just get to it, shall we? :) Here are the raffle winners for this month. If you'd like to be considered for a prize, read the instructions below the raffle announcements, ok?

  • Chris Keating, from Carthage, TX, has won a copy of Virtual Studio Systems' Lyricist software.

  • Stacy Mercurio, from Nashville, TN, has won a free 3 month membership to SongU, an Internet-based learning environment providing online coaching, co-writing and pitching opportunities, in addition to over 70 multi-level courses developed by award-winning songwriters.

  • Richard W. Schultze from La Grange, TX, has won a 6 month membership to GMC has tons of helpful videos, instructors and lessons along with a forum for chatting with teachers and students 24/7, recording collaborations, attending video chats, & content for bass, drums, singing, piano, etc.

If you'd like to be considered for a raffle prize yourself, have a look at the various prizes offered at the top of The Muse's News webpage, decide which prizes you'd most like, and email me with your top two choices along with your mailing address so that I can get the prizes to you. Yes, it's really that simple. :) (And yes, the mailing address is kinda important. I promise it won't be used for any other reason than to send you your raffle prize - and to mention your approximate location in the notice of raffle winners you see above here.)

I hope the month is hugely productive for you!

All the best,


Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)


It's the "secret weapon" used by some of the winners of the world's most prestigious vocal awards, including the Doves, the CMA Awards, and yes, the Grammies.

Learn the one mistake even professional singers make, that drains away 3 times more vocal energy and yields only half the needed vocal power. Find out about the 3 simple exercises that allow even a "beginner" to make rapid increases in range (this also eliminates vocal strain). Learn Brett's secret for "dissolving" your break, so you'll never have to flip into falsetto again, but you'll still sing as high as you want--in full voice - and LOTS more.

The package includes 12 audio CDs (packed with 17 repeatable lessons, including both technique--the simple, yet powerful exercises, and style lessons for building vocal licks and trills); a workbook for illustration; and a DVD for visual reference and demonstration. It's a complete course - and it has a money-back guarantee!

Drop by for more details and start yourself on the road to improving your vocal chops today.

Music Reviews: Cyrus Rhodes


Cyrus Rhodes:

* The Animation

Click here for bios on each of the reviewers. If you're considering sending in your own CD for review, you can also view that page to find out which reviewer reviews your genre. Thanks!

Artist Spotlights:

Great music is only a click away!
Here is a selection of the great artists and bands highlighted
in the Artist Spotlight section of The Muse's Muse.


Possessed By Paul James - Genre: COUNTRY

Feed the Family brings about a new process of recording, namely with other musicians for a change. The intention was never to play alone, so when other pickers are available it’s nothin' but fun! The concept of the songs and themes of course surround family and providing for family. There’s also a bit of Texas influence - more so with this album than others in the past.

Songwriting Book Review By: Tim Zbikowski

A Songwriting Playbook for Teens

by Alex Forbes

If, upon reading the title, you immediately decided this is not a book for you because of your age, I offer two reasons you might want to buy this book. First, it’s not a bad idea to review fundamentals of song writing every few years. Sometimes we songwriters fall into ruts or bad habits and need a gentle reminder of the basic concepts we learned and over time have forgotten or ignored. Second, this book would be a great gift to give a young, aspiring songwriter to get them started in the right direction. I recently spent time mentoring a member of the younger generation and found it to be a very rewarding experience.

Author Alex Forbes created the book from a songwriting course she developed and taught at the Institute for Collaborative Education, a public school in New York. I previously introduced you to Alex in the April 2013 Muse’s News book review of her “Write Songs Right Now”. She’s been a professional songwriter for nearly 30 years with a collection of Billboard-charting songs to her credit. “SongLAB” is available from as an eBook or Audio book. I preferred and listened to the audio book, narrated by the author herself. I found extra meaning in her pleasant voice, much like listening to a recorded song instead of only reading its lyrics.

Although the book is intended to encourage young songwriters, I think it gave my (somewhat older!) brain a bit of a mental lift as well. The underlying theme, repeated throughout, is “dare to fail”. We’ve heard it before, but Alex reminds us “you have to write a lot of really bad stuff to write some good stuff.”

Alex uses a liberal portion of participation-type exercises to emphasize the important points. You may use these on your own or employ them in co-writing sessions to generate new ideas and improve your ability to use well-known songwriting tools.

Since the book was developed from a complete introductory songwriting course, all the basics are included. Alex leads the reader or listener through song structure, lyric construction, rhyme types and schemes, point of view, literary devices, melody, chord theory and progressions, rhythm and prosody.

Frequently, Alex dissects an existing hit song to illustrate how songwriting tools were used to construct a successful and memorable song. Thanks in part to my technical background, I find this type of analysis interesting and motivational to work on improving my own techniques.

In any songwriting book, I always look for one or two gems which by themselves justify my time and expense. Here are a couple I particularly enjoyed in this book. “If you want to write killer songs, lyrical devices like rhyme, metaphor and imagery are not an option!” Make sure your song has “money notes” and the lyrics marry up well to these notes.

My recommendation is to give SongLAB a read or listen and pass it along to a young wannabe songwriter. You may find yourself doubly rewarded. Write on!



Tim Zbikowski is an active member of the Minnesota Association of Songwriters, assisting with song critiques and presentations on songwriting. His introduction to music was piano lessons in the early 1960’s. He played drums in a garage band and in his high school’s band program. Tim bought his first personal computer in 1984 and by the 1990’s connected a keyboard to a computer. When notes appeared on a staff on the monitor, he was hooked forever! Tim is a free-lance audio engineer, seriously studies the craft of songwriting, and enjoys the mental recreation and stimulation of writing in multiple genres.

Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)


Berklee Online, Berklee College of Music's extension school, is the world's first accredited non-profit music institution to offer Bachelor's degrees online. We are now accepting applications for our two new programs: Bachelor of Professional Studies degrees in Music Production and Bachelor of Professional Studies degrees in Music Business. Applications are now open. Degree programs begin in 2014.

Musical Notes: Songwriting Contests & Market Info.

In the interest of conserving space (when I need to), I will be including only changes to this listing in this newsletter. All other contests and market information that have already been listed here, are displayed at &
Please check there regularly for updates!


This is incredible offer that allows artists to gain access to $340 worth of music directories for only $59.95.

The ULTIMATE Indie Bundle consists of this year's edition of The Indie Bible, The Indie Venue Bible and Indie Bible ONLINE as well as a copy of next year's Indie Bible ... all for only $59.95! Over 50,000 music listings in all including Radio Stations, Music Magazines, Venues, Labels, Distributors and much more!

Click here for details and to order online.


The 2014 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project - a partnership between the Johnny Mercer Foundation and Northwestern's American Music Theatre Project will take place June 22-28, 2014. It is a free week long intensive for emerging professional songwriters between the ages of 18–30 in all genres of the American popular song including country, musical theatre, rock, Latin, and contemporary pop.  Participants work with award–winning professional master teachers that foster the tradition of mentorship to which Johnny Mercer was so committed.  The week will culminate with a gala concert combining the talents of the program participants, master teachers, and the recipient of the Artist of Distinction award, to be announced shortly.


Our biggest prize package to date. This world class, 7 stop, summer tour is an unprecedented opportunity for songwriters to play before mega audiences and move to the next level of your career. All Genres accepted. However, you must be a Performing Songwriter. Youth category for young writers 9 - 15. You must be available to perform the summer tour taking place in the Pennsylvania, NY, Delaware region. Submission Guidelines, Contest Overview, Details: SUBMISSION DEADLINE MARCH 14. Partial list of prizes: Firefly Festival (1 grand prize winner), Bethlehem Musik Festival, Rose Tree Media Summer Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival. For Questions:

A REVOLUTIONARY NEW WAY TO SHARE AND PROMOTE MUSIC pays Fans to Follow and Promote Songs and is 100% FREE to join for both recording artists and music fans. Join us in our mission of making Tunii the future of the music industry where together we can all share in the success for connecting artists and fans around the world. Sign up today through this special Muse's Muse link and please check out our short “How Tunii works video” It's Easy, it's FREE and it's Fun!


Getting great gigs, building your audience and selling more merchandise is exactly what your career is all about. This online course is jam-packed with 12 hours of downloadable audio mp3s and PDF Action Guides. There are 5 modules: Module 1: Tour Goals & Planning Strategies, Module 2: Routing Your Tours, Module 3: Negotiation Techniques & Contracts, Module 4: Working with Presenters, Bookers, Promoters/Advancing the Date, Module 5: Targeting Your Markets for Maximum Audiences. Plus 2 hours of bonus classes, BONUS #1: Website Maximizer-Is you’re your Website Selling You? Learn how. BONUS #2: Copy Writing: How to write fan emails, press releases and other promo copy that get responses. Bonus # 3: Three free Industry Biz Booster Monthly Mentor Interviews. And finally, weekly call-in office hours to talk with former agent, manager, author, creator, Jeri Goldstein directly, about the course and your career. Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets gives you artist-tested, step-by-step strategies to help you reach your career goals and make all of your tours profitable.


Award winning songwriter Jane Eamon is offering songwriting one on one classes via Skype. These sessions are one hour in length and can cover any topic you'd like to address. From writing, to critique, to ideas and games. Or just to share your thoughts and get feedback. If you're interested in a session contact to schedule a class.


Hooktheory is a free resource that can show you how to integrate basic music theory into your songwriting process, making it easier to write catchy chord progressions and melody. Hooktheory currently consists of three main areas:
1. The Hookbook demonstrates basic principles of music theory and how they relate to popular music. It's filled with multimedia-rich content explaining musical concepts synchronized to real songs so you can hear what you are learning and make connections easier.
2. The Music Editor lets you write chord progressions in Roman Numeral notation and listen to them in any key. Add a melody, save your work, share it with friends, or export it to Garageband, sheet music, or guitar tab.
3. The Analysis Wiki is a user-generated collection of analyses of popular songs. Look up the chord progression and melody of a song, or use the music editor to create your own analyses.
Check it out now!

Muse's Clues - By You?

©2011-2014 ----. All Rights Reserved.
Used By Permission

John is unable to continue writing this column - but the search is on for someone to take up the gauntlet. Is that you? If so, email me and we can talk about it. Thanks!


Your byline would go here, with links to your latest projects. :)

Featured Article - By Brad Dunse

QUICK TIP: WARNING! Content May Be Powerful To Your Song

“Today we’re talkin’
Today we’re talkin’
Today we’re ta-ta-talkin’…
About the power of repetition
The power of repetition
Yeah baby… the pa-pa-power of repetition”

We’re not talking about repetitious lyrics exactly, though that is a powerful tool. What we are talking about this month is the unbelievable power of repetitious melody in our lyrics that just begs to be released.

An awesome example is a Rascal-Flatts tune, What Hurts the Most (Jeff Steele/Steve Robson).

Check it out and stop back here, I’ll hang tight. Or, get the link playing then listen as you read along.

You might want to listen to it again at the end of this tip, but is that an infectious tension builder or what? Did you notice a few melodic techniques being used?

First off, a quick little acoustic guitar riff repeats three times to start the tune.  It plays again before the second verse, and has the honor of contributing to the song’s end. This is a very subtle use of melodic familiarity that shows up less often in the song.

Secondly, the verse starts out with a melody phrasing that leaves you hanging just a bit unresolved. Then it leads you right back into another one exactly like it. It finishes up leading you into one of the song’s strongest hooks there in the lift.

All those ascending simple three-note phrases back to back in the lift build an incredible amount of tension. Even if they would have used just one set of three-note phrases, it would have served as a strong lift, but they increase tension by using it twice.

I had to go back and actually count how many three-note phrases were in the lift as I swore the second half of the lift had one or two more in it.

That is the power of building tension. It fooled my ear thinking there was more because the anticipation level was built so high. In fact, go back and count, you’ll notice something different between the first lift and the second one.

Thirdly, they use some note toggling within the phrases themselves to build even more tension. They bounce back and forth between a couple notes to help sustain the melodic suspense.

Can you see the craftsmanship in What Hurts the Most? They funnel you in from a wider view using the less frequently repeated guitar riff. Then they close in with the multiple repeated phrases in each section of the song. Finally they get really tight by using note toggling within the phrases themselves.

We start to see a layered dimension to melodic repetition we didn’t know was there. We liked the songs hooky groove, but didn’t necessarily know the intricacies of why.

Even the chorus, where we usually find a payoff earlier, keeps the tension going with its own set of repeating melodic phrases that still leave us hanging. It isn’t until we actually reach the title that we feel we’re fully satisfied.

That is superb writing to successfully toy with the melodic tension from the first word sung all the way through the title’s end.

So what do you do with this tool? Model it, that’s what!

1. Take a lyric of a song you’re working on, or write a new one, and break it out into some melodic phrases.

2. Mix in some note toggling within your phrases like they’ve done in this song. Bounce back and forth between a couple notes to add a second layer of tension building. Use one syllable words if at all possible, it’s much more powerful.

3. Break your chorus out into three or four syllable phrases and repeat them a few times. Feel free to use the sample chorus lyric I opened with as foundation to build your own lyric and melody.

These techniques can make your song really fun, and if done right, will have people singing along before the second verse comes around… and maybe even whistling it the following day while on the way to the mailbox or at work.

Until next time, keep writing from the heart.


Brad Dunse is a performing songwriter based deep in the country's heartland reflecting sensitivity of daily living in his songs. Writing primarily in Folk, Country, Pop, or Americana, he occasionally writes CCM. Co-writer of The Wall, a tribute to Viet Vets receiving major market airplay, he's also received airplay on NPR, local public, independent, and web radio. He is a freelance writer, is board member of Minnesota Association of Songwriters, been member or involved in ASCAP, NSAI, SongU and other organizations. You can visit his web site at WWW.BRADDUNSEMUSIC.COM as well Add As Facebook Friend or Follow Him On Twitter.


How To Quickly Correct Your Guitar Playing Problems - by Tom Hess

Tired of not making progress in your guitar playing? Most likely, your lack of progress is the result of years of bad playing habits. Until you correct your bad habits, you will be destined to experience the feeling of helplessness you get after realizing that you need to ‘begin from square one’ every time you try to learn something new.


The Secret To Becoming A Successful Professional Musician - by Tom Hess

Have you always wanted to become a professional musician and wondered what it takes to reach the top of the music industry? Are you frustrated working at your current job because it has nothing to do with music? I can relate because I was once in the exact same spot you are in!


The Secret To Playing Badass Blues Guitar Licks - Part 2 - by Tom Hess

Have you always wanted to become a professional musician and wondered what it takes to reach the top of the music industry? Are you frustrated working at your current job because it has nothing to do with music? I can relate because I was once in the exact same spot you are in!


Are You a Singer-Songwriter or a Songer-Singwriter? - by Bill Pere

There are many roles required to take a song from conception to being a finished product that is out there in the world (see Songcrafters' Coloring Book, Chapter 3, "Role Call")  But while performing many roles, there is ultimately ONE primary role that is your strength, your passion, and your true self-identity.   Knowing what this is, what you are and what you are not, is the foundation for a career free from disappointment that comes from unmet expectations.

Classifieds & Useful Services


GMC is a video lesson archive & community. GMC has tons of helpful videos, instructors and lessons. GMC also features forum for chatting with teachers and students 24/7, recording collaborations, attending video chats + content for bass, drums, singing, piano etc. All genres and styles are covered - Rock, metal, shred, blues, jazz, country & acoustic, funk.. We want you to have fun while learning - so get rocking NOW!

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-14273 videos, 2262 lessons and 37 instructors.
-Register at GMC forum - join a virtual band, chat with any instructor etc
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 -EXTRAS: Gear-, singing-, recording-, bass-, piano- and drum lessons. GMC Theory Grimoire eBook !!!

Special for Muse's Muse visitors: 
Get a $10 discount for your first month of subscription!


Lyricist is the first-of-its-kind word processor designed specifically for musicians, songwriters, and poets. The software includes a Rhyming Dictionary, Thesaurus, Album Categorization, Chord Charting, Chord Generator, Song Arrangement, and On-Line Copyright Link.

The new version 3 release adds support for "Piano Style" chord symbols, Nashville Number System, and Transposition features - all in one easy-to-use package - and all for only $54.95! (That's $5.00 off to all Muse's News readers who purchase from the review link at!)

This tool will revolutionize the way you write and organize your writing.
Be the best songwriter you can be and purchase Lyricist today!


Writing a great melody is the #1 component to writing a song your listeners will want to buy, and hear over and over again. If you want some easy ways to improve your melodies to start writing songs your fans will love, check out this FREE report. It'll teach you some great (and simple!) tricks for writing sophisticated and marketable melodies:

For Classifieds: US$50 Max. 7 lines (though I do make exceptions), where a line = 65 characters including spaces and punctuation. All contracts must be prepaid. Write to:

Click here for Newsletter Sponsorship rates and other advertising opportunities.

Contact Info & Credits

Jodi Krangle, Editor:

The Muse's News is a free monthly newsletter for and about songwriters. Subscribers are welcome to recirculate or reprint The Muse's News for nonprofit use as long as the appropriate credit is given and the ENTIRE text of the newsletter is included (including credits and information at the end of each issue). Others should contact me at All articles copyrighted by their authors.

Back issues and other information will be available here.

The Muse's News is part of The Muse's Muse, a web resource for songwriters.

For further information, send your e-mail to: - How to place a classified ad, pass on market information or sponsor The Muse's News. - How to subscribe or end your subscription. - To submit articles,reviews,ideas,etc.

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Back issues of the newsletter can be read here or in an archive at the National Library of Canada ecollection.


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